Category Archives: Five Stars

White Knuckle

A collection of poetry that unearths the heartache and tragedies of child abuse. Steven Bruce has written a book about his experiences as a child afflicted by parental abuse and the abuse of the foster system. This collection of poems goes over several hard-hitting topics like addiction and substance abuse, domestic violence, verbal abuse and growing up homeless. White Knuckle is a heart-wrenching read for those who don’t see this pain every day and, hopefully, a comfort to those who are fighting similar demons; know that you’re not alone.

Bruce’s poems are very direct and leave little to the imagination. They are eloquently written. So, as someone who has had a happy childhood, it’s hard to imagine how anyone could be so inhumane to a child. I will confess I choked up several times reading about the abuse and pain Bruce went through. Some of the poems had me wondering if they relate to any myths or legends like Black Dog. There are folklore stories about demonic black dogs wandering cemeteries in search of lost souls to eat or guide to the afterlife/drag to hell. There is another story I found while looking up the myths about black dogs –newly created cemeteries would replace the first resident with a deceased black dog to save the person’s soul from going to hell. I’m not sure I see the reason for the last one, but Bruce’s poems, like this one, give a person pause to reflect on a deeper meaning.

There is no wrong way to write a poem as long as it has meaning to the poet. Readers will be pondering the meaning of some of the poems, like Sand and Moonlight, Street Gum and Avocado. There is a deeper meaning to these poems that is elusive yet potent.

White Knuckle is an intense and gritty collection of rousing poetry. I personally try to avoid these extremely emotional and heart-wrenching topics based solely on the fact I try to avoid crying but this is one book that I would definitely read again.

Pages: 102 | ASIN: B08HY35T2W

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No Pistol Tastes the Same

Sgt. Grimm (J.P) opts to serve his country. Away from his family, he takes solace in the camaraderie of his fellow Marines, including Joey, his best friend. But it all goes wrong when Grimm loses his friend and other men he could have saved if he had acted faster. The patriotic soldier later returns from the war into the arms of his wife, son, and grandparents. But burdened by guilt and haunted by the bombs, blood, and deaths from the war, Grimm is not the same man he was when he left home. And his new demons threaten to tear apart everything and everyone he calls home. The question is, will he let them?

Although its curious title doesn’t give this away, No Pistol Tastes The Same is a gripping novel on post-traumatic stress disorder among veterans. It peels away the layers of unfamiliarity and reveals the deeply disturbing and lingering effects war has on the minds and lives of those who fight in it.

This story reminds me of why storytelling is a powerful tool to evoke empathy. Author Jacob Paul Patchen’s writing successfully transports readers into his main character’s reality, making an unfamiliar situation seem like a shared reality. Patchen is also great with imagery as he improves the reading experience with evocative descriptions of settings.

The story is delivered with the elegance and precision of a true wordsmith. Make no mistake, there aren’t flowery words or unclear metaphors. Instead, readers feel the total weight of a narrative cobbled with tools whose sophistication is in their cultured simplicity. The writing is so good that it strikes the heart where it matters in many places, ensuring that you feel the raw emotions being communicated. Altogether, the story is free-flowing, mainly punctuated by the moments of reflection and concern it triggers.

No Pistol Tastes the Same is a captivating war novel dealing with life after returning from war. The plot is pretty straightforward but excellently executed. The characters are relatable and make readers care about this remarkable story.

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The Tree House Night

Emma and Oliver are best friends that live next door to each other. They decide they are going to build a treehouse in the backyard between their homes. Oliver is apprehensive, but Emma encourages him to help her make it. At one point, Oliver decides he is uncomfortable with the treehouse and refuses to climb up and leaves Emma to finish the job herself. Once it is finished, she proudly shows her work off to her parents and tells them she wants to spend the night up in the tree. They tell her no, it is not safe. Later, Oliver climbs up the tree to talk to her and tells her he heard what she said and wants to support her plan. That night when Emma sneaks out to stay in the treehouse, Oliver watches over her from his bedroom window.

The Tree House Night, written by Tuula Pere, is another fantastic work by this author. This excellent picture book focuses on friendship. Two friends who do not always agree still find a way to remain friends and focus on what matters, supporting each other in their dreams and goals. Even though Oliver disagrees with Emma’s plan, he supports her in the only way he can, shining light and watching over her as she sleeps in the treehouse. Knowing her best friend is watching over her gives Emma the strength to overcome her fears of the dark and the noises she hears.

So many children’s books on friendship focus on the good times children have. I like that this book showed that friends do not have to always agree on the same things or have the same goals. Even with these differences, they can still support one another and help each other make their dreams come true. This is the beauty of people. They don’t all have to be the same or have the same ideas and goals to be kind and be friends. This excellent picture book shows children they can be friends with people different from themselves and support one another.

The artwork done by Catty Flores is genuinely superb. The characters have so much personality children who can’t read will still be able to feel Oliver’s mood as he is concerned about things happening. But, equally, Emma’s excitement and confidence radiate off the pages as she builds her dream treehouse. The bond they share shines through the pages, and children will relate to the images presented in this captivating story.

The Tree House Night is a beautifully written picture book with an inspirational message about friendship and supporting those you care for. Children, teachers, and parents will all enjoy reading this remarkable story and will be able to relate to the message that the author has presented.

Pages: 32 | ASIN : B09K6MNF52

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Rosebud: A Poetry Collection

Rosebud: A Poetry Collection by Nick Jameson is a book of poems that is characterized by its beauty and accurate representation of what it’s like to be alive. The poems presented are varied and highly relatable to the human experience, to something deep that lives inside of every one of us. Life, love, spirit and pain are some of the many subjects covered through the different poems, each of them painted in a beautiful manner that will resonate with the readers.

The moment I started reading this book I realized how special it was going to be. From the beginning it addressed relevant philosophical topics in a delicate and simple way. These themes came alive through every new poem, weaving a thread for the reader to follow and inspect within themselves the meaning and beauty of life. The narrative voice that Jameson uses is very comforting and soothes the soul. Even those poems that dealt with the pain and suffering of being alive illustrated their ideas in such a lovely way that the main feeling that one got from them was of being seen and understood, a reassuring and warm sentiment. By the end, Jameson had recreated through his poems a feeling and idea that is so profound to the human soul yet abstract and hard to describe. It is the feeling of being alive, of loving and of finding one’s way in this strange world that’s been given to us.

Through every page, each new poem speaks to the readers’ soul as an ancient friend would. It guides them and consoles them, painting a captivating picture filled with life and inspiration. The fervor to love and to live a spiritual life is felt along many of the poems, letting the readers reconnect with something important that lives inside of us. Here lay the utmost important ideas that have been forgotten in this modern world and are needed to live a fulfilled life. Expect to recur to the words written in these poems in times of worry and self-doubt.

The themes covered in this poetry collection are varied yet all intertwine in one way or another. There are many narrative styles used that help in conveying the ideas presented in an imaginative way. The result is a fantastic masterpiece that will resonate with the hearts of many. There are so many lines worth highlighting in this small poetry collection that will remind you of the magic contained in every moment, in nature, and the potential of living life with love and passion.

Pages: 152 | ASIN: B09YHD7BQT

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GOD OF NOTHING

Author Shane Scott’s God of Nothing is a thrilling fantasy book about Titans, Demons, Angels, Vampires, and Bool. It has an interesting take on God, creation, and all associated with it. If you understand traditional Abrahamic faiths, this book will particularly challenge your perspective. Generally, it follows the story of Satan and God’s daughter, Aja Ashe, and her descendants – Sel and Jaxx. Because of the time difference that exists between its protagonists’ adult years, the story hops from the present to the past, sometimes even going back to the beginning of creation. Ultimately, this book covers the birth of Aja Ashe, her discovery of her immortality, her love life, her son’s life, and the love life of her grandson.

As we read from page to page, we understand who Aje Ashe is, her capabilities, and her values. We also get to see how her life choices have affected those close to her. If there’s one thing that the author does well, though, it highlights the duality of the book’s different characters. Only a handful of characters are just pure good or pure evil. Most are layered, complex, and nuanced, like real-life people. This makes the book realistic even though it’s a fantasy one.

While the story is narrated by Miranda, God of Knowledge, to Jaxx (Aje’s grandson) and his fiancé Olivia, it is mainly in the third person, allowing the reader to fully immerse themselves in the different life stories of the characters. What’s more? The author uses short sentences and paragraphs, keeping everything light and easy to read.

Beyond that, the author uses a lot of descriptive languages that helps readers understand even the most complex of concepts. This is particularly important because the book goes deep into the intricacies of how the various creatures of the world were made. It’s also great that the book includes snippets of wisdom at the beginning of each chapter, allegedly from the God of Wisdom. Each snippet furnishes us with new information that is integral to our understanding of the chapter. Moreover, the book is well-edited and formatted – there are no grammatical errors.

God of Nothing is a riveting epic fantasy that is hard to put down. This coming-of-age novel will appeal to readers looking for something different with a dark edge and LGBTQ themes. Filled with conflict and well-developed plot fantasy readers will not be disappointed.

Pages: 426 | ASIN : B08W3KCRRP

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Blackface

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Blackface, by Pamela D. Smith, is a celebration of African American’s success in politics, art, and culture. For the longest time, black faces have been associated with mockery, misery, pity, and everything negative. Pamela D. Smith, however, brings positivity to the words and gets readers to revisit the misrepresentation of the term. Smith is not trying to forget history but she wants readers to use these experiences to become a leader. The Author shares painful memories of African Americans, the impact slavery has had for generations, race dynamics, the struggles Black people have gone through, and how African Americans rose up, and are shining.

Smith has written a powerful and inspiring book sharing her experiences as an African American woman and asks the reader what they would do if they were in her situation. Many of the situations the author describes are some that many readers don’t face that often so this was an eye-opening read for me. I also admired that the author debunks the stereotypes given to African Americans, some of which I wasn’t even aware of.

The author writes in a conversational tone that is not out to point fingers but instead to educate us. I feel this book can be relatable to people of different races, not just African Americans. Smith inspires and provides tips on how to be a leader for yourself and how to be the best version of yourself no matter what you face in the world.

The author is honest and open with the reader and she does not hold back about what African Americans have gone through and still go through today. The author’s vulnerability is inspiring and a remarkable feature of her writing.

Every chapter in Blackface has a lesson that will benefit the reader. My biggest lessons were on how to brand and package yourself for more visibility. By creating an exemplary brand with your name, you will be able to skillfully sell whatever product or service you have, impact lives, sub-consciously mentor future leaders, and live a fulfilling life. Apart from the wise teachings, I also loved the quotable texts in various chapters. One of my favorite quotes from Blackface is ‘To become internally self-aware, we must be open-minded’. This quote is powerful and helped me change my perspective.

Blackface: An African American guide to building a personal brand, developing as a leader, and serving with excellency is an insightful look into how African Americans can grow in their professional lives. It gives a realistic look into the struggles and roadblocks that People of Color face.

Dilation

Dilation: A 10,000-Year Sci-Fi Epic, by Travis Stecher, is about the human race’s first encounter with aliens. As this encounter leads to humanity’s impending destruction, many people are sent 10,000 years into the future to defend Earth. 21st-century biology professor Denise Walker and DIA agent Isaac Fowler are joined in the 126th century by 32nd-century fighter pilot Nadia Raynor. Follow their journey across time as humankind struggles to find its way into the future and survive the alien invasion.

Stecher captivates the reader from the beginning as he introduces the character Raynor just after she’s arrived in the 126th century. The reader is in suspense as hints are given that something critical is happening. Then, in awe of the historical figures Raynor encounters, the reader is taken back into “our time” and gives the story’s beginning.

The author does a fantastic job of pulling the reader through time as events unfold and connecting the dots to the beginning of this complex book when Raynor is first introduced. Once all the characters and the reader are fully entrenched in the 126th century, he thrusts us into the action of the human race fighting for survival. The action scenes are one to applaud and are filled with such detail you feel as if you are watching a movie. The characters are believable, along with their emotions and dialogue. They are thoroughly fleshed-out characters in a vibrant and detailed universe. The story was not bogged down with technical details, and the author gave enough information to keep the reader engaged.

Dilation: A 10,000-Year Sci-Fi Epic is a gripping time travel adventure that hooks the reader from the beginning and keeps their attention to the very last page. This novel will entertain hard science fiction readers with memorable characters, exciting conflict, and an unforgettable story.

Pages: 464 | ASIN : B09QQLD79Y

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Raspberry Red

Aino doesn’t understand why her father has left with the other village men during autumn. She doesn’t understand why scary noises are coming from the forest and why her mother wants her to play near home. Forced to leave their home when soldiers arrive, Aino quickly grabs her doll running for the trucks that will take the family to safety, but they have left without her. Looking back to where she ran, she sees the bright red doll’s apron lying on the pure white snow. It is then that Aino realizes two soldiers are standing near her house, and they too have seen the apron and her footprints. The young soldier sees her and sends the older one into the house. He then lets Aino escape, leaving her doll’s apron behind.

Aino, her family, and her friends must learn to live in strange homes and rely on people they do not know. Then, when the war is winding down, they can finally go back home. Arriving home to a burnt-down home, she is shocked to find her raspberry red apron that belonged to her doll hanging from a clothesline.

Raspberry Red by Tuula Pere and illustrated by Georgia Stylou is a story that I was not expecting, but the ending made me smile. This stirring story starts out on the darker side with questions and uncertainty for all the characters. The images in the story are impressive as they look lifelike and like they are hand-drawn. Aino’s eyes especially will draw in readers and convey her feelings throughout this inspirational book.

Aino’s character is impressive as she is a child but still aware of her surroundings and she is responsible and helpful to her mother. Raspberry Red is a short but powerful read that will leave the reader with complex emotions. Pere’s writing is remarkable in having the ability to affect readers. The best part of this book is the end, where readers will learn the meaning of the title Raspberry Red.

Raspberry Red is an emotionally charged children’s book that deals with war, displaced families, and the struggle to survive and rebuild in a war-torn country. Given current events, this insightful book will help readers understand the plight of those living in these conditions. This book would be a great way to open discussion with children.

Pages: 20 | ASIN : B077LXS2VQ

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